Frequently Asked Questions

We have put together a list of the questions we get asked most often. Take a look through the topics below- if you can’t find an answer to your question, please call us on 0800 800 663 or email We’re happy to help!


Music Licensing - The Basics

Why does my business need a music licence?

Some business owners are surprised to learn they need a licence to play music in their business. Using music in a business, commercial environment, or any other public setting is considered a “public performance” under the Copyright Act, and owners of music copyrights are entitled to be asked their permission and to charge a fee for the use of their work.

What is a public performance?

A public performance is the playing of music in a business, commercial environment, or any other non-domestic setting. In these settings, even if a performance is given for free, the audience is small or you are playing music to the members of a club or society, this does not exclude it from being a public performance under the Copyright Act.

I have paid for the music I play so why do I need a licence?

Simply buying music does not provide the rights to use this music in a commercial or public setting. Music is sold for private/domestic use, so any use of this music by a business or organisation is a public performance that requires licensing. The same rule applies whether you have purchased a physical CD, bought a digital download or stream music through a subscription service.

How much do licence fees cost?

Licence fees take into account how music is used by different types of businesses and organisations, the value it offers, the size of a business and any other relevant factors that may have been raised by the industry groups we meet with regularly. Please refer to the “Which Licence” section of the website for details on the licences available for different businesses and industries.

When should I apply for a licence?

Anyone starting a new business should contact OneMusic if their intention is to play music to customers. Your OneMusic licence will commence from when your business starts using music. If you have only recently been made aware that your business requires a music licence you should apply for a OneMusic licence immediately.

Is holding a licence a legal requirement?

Yes it is. The Copyright Act clearly establishes these public performance rights. The Copyright Act also outlines the penalties for anyone in breach of the Act. The Copyright Act provides for a maximum $150,000 fine and/or 5 years imprisonment for breaches of the law.

Does this only happen in NZ?

No. Similar copyright laws exist around the world and music licensing companies exist in many other territories around the world.

Where does the money go?

OneMusic pays all money collected, less administration costs, to APRA and Recorded Music NZ to distribute to their respective copyright holders/members each year. APRA and Recorded Music NZ are non-profit organisations and income is distributed based on detailed data collected from radio and television broadcasters, live performance returns, cinemas, airlines, schools and background music suppliers. For more information regarding distribution visit the APRA AMCOS and Recorded Music NZ websites. 

Why do I need a Dubbing Licence?

If you use a music streaming service in your business you require two licences from OneMusic - one for the public performance of music, and one for the reproduction or caching of music.

Have a look at the terms and conditions of your or other digital music service providers. You will see that almost all digital music services operating in New Zealand strictly dictate their service is for PERSONAL and DOMESTIC use only. These digital music services pay a licence fee to APRA AMCOS and the owners of sound recordings, which is calculated ONLY for PERSONAL and DOMESTIC use.

If you nevertheless decide to use a digital music service as background music, you must obtain both a OneMusic Background Music licence to authorise the public performance of music, and a OneMusic Dubbing Licence to authorise the reproduction, copying, caching and storage of music in other formats.

It’s important to note that holding a Dubbing Licence does not grant you permission from the digital music service to use their service in a business or commercial setting.

We suggest you check the terms and conditions of your digital music service’s end-user agreement as to whether there are other permissions you require from the service itself.

What’s the connection between OneMusic and APRA and Recorded Music NZ?

OneMusic is a joint licensing initiative between APRA and Recorded Music NZ. Previously, businesses have needed a licence from both APRA and Recorded Music NZ (previously known as PPNZ Music Licensing) to cover all copyrights in recorded music. Having to apply for two separate licences was both confusing and time consuming for businesses, so OneMusic was created to offer a single music licence covering all the permissions needed for businesses and other organisations to play music in public.

What's the connection between OneMusic New Zealand and OneMusic Australia? 

OneMusic NZ is a joint licensing initiative between APRA AMCOS NZ and Recorded Music NZ. OneMusic Australia is a joint licensing initiative between APRA AMCOS Australia and the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA). PPCA represent record labels and recording artists for the public performance of sound recordings. Learn more about OneMusic Australia here.

What happens if I don’t hold a licence?

To be fair to the businesses that hold a OneMusic licence, and to the musicians who own the music being played, OneMusic runs a compliance programme. This involves visiting businesses to confirm whether they play our members’ music and if so, follow up to ensure an appropriate licence is taken out. Our licensing team provides those using music with all the information they need and are happy to talk through any issues or questions. If a business using our members’ music simply refuses to hold the appropriate licence, legal proceedings are issued to reach a resolution.

I have sold my business or have ceased trading - how do I cancel my account?

If you have sold your business, or have ceased trading we need you to let us know in writing. If you have sold your business, complete a OneMusic Change of Ownership form, or if you have ceased trading complete a OneMusic Licence Cancellation Request form.


Background Music

What music is covered by the OneMusic licence?

Through the membership of APRA and Recorded Music NZ and reciprocal agreements with similar organisations around the world, OneMusic’s repertoire covers the vast majority of music available. The repertoire is added to daily as new music is created, released and registered with us. If you have any questions about whether the music you play is covered by OneMusic please contact us on 0800 800 663.

How do you know what music I play?

Wherever possible we try to match the licence income we receive with data on the music that has been played. However, it would be unrealistic to expect every business and organisation to provide us with complete playlists of all the music they play. For this reason we distribute public performance income based on the detailed data we receive from a wide range of radio and television broadcasters, live performance returns and background music suppliers.

I only play background music from the radio. Do I still need a licence?

Yes. Playing music from the radio in a commercial setting is a public performance of that music. As programming often includes advertising and commentary from DJs, the licence fee for public performance of music via the radio is set at half the rate of the standard background music licence fee.

I only play music from other countries such as Thailand, Mexico or Italy. Why do I need a licence?

Through APRA and Recorded Music NZ, OneMusic holds reciprocal agreements with similar organisations and rights holders around the world.  In practice this means that OneMusic collects royalties for the use of other countries’ music in New Zealand, and they collect royalties for the use of our members’ music in their countries.  Through these agreements OneMusic represents a vast repertoire of music from around the world.  If you believe you only play music that is outside the OneMusic repertoire please contact us on 0800 800 663 so we can confirm this with you.

What does “premises” area mean and what does it include?

When calculating the premises area of your hospitality or retail business, you should include the area where music is played to the public. For instance, if music is played in toilets or outside areas that are open for use by customers, these areas should be included. However, areas used solely by staff such as storage areas, kitchens, staff rooms and toilets etc do not need to be included in the premises calculation.

How do I measure the premises size?

Square metres are calculated by multiplying the length and the width of your premise area. For instance, if an area is 20 metres wide by 50 metres long it would be 1000 square metres.  If you are pacing out the length and width of the premises area, each long stride will be approximately one metre.

If you operate multiple locations, the premise size for each location must be calculated and listed separately. Locations cannot be added together and reported under one size bracket.

What do I receive from OneMusic?

When you hold a OneMusic licence you can be sure your business is complying with copyright law and that the owners of the music you play are being paid for the use of their work. The OneMusic licence sticker you are sent lets your customers, guests or members know that you support the owners of the music you play by holding a music licence.

You can also receive useful music related information from our OneMusic Facebook and Twitter pages and increasingly can find valuable music related information on the benefits music can offer to your business from the OneMusic website.

I run a showroom, and my business is trade only - do I still need a licence?

Any performance of music outside of a domestic setting requires the permission of the rights holders. If you play music in a showroom that is open to clients and / or the general public you will need a Retail and General licence, covering you for the music you play. 

Is OneMusic a Government organisation?

No. OneMusic is a joint initiative between APRA and Recorded Music NZ. Both APRA and Recorded Music NZ are non-government, non-profit organisations representing owners of music and the recordings of that music. To find out more about each organisation visit and


Featured Music – Bands, DJS & Karaoke

I use DJs and bands. Shouldn’t they hold a licence instead of me?

The person/business authorising a public performance is responsible for holding the public performance licence. While you may hire bands or DJs, it is the pub, club, bar or restaurant that is obliged to hold the licence.

I have bands and DJs on the same night. Do I have to pay two per day rates?

No. If you have a live band and a DJ on the same day, you only have to pay one “per day” rate and this would be the DJ rate. If you have a live band and karaoke on the same night, again only one “per day” rate applies.

What is the definition of a DJ?

A DJ is a person who provides recorded music entertainment to a venue via equipment such as turntables, CD players, digital music storage devices, mixers, amplifiers and speakers. A DJ is a featured performer providing a “real time” programme of music additional to a venue’s regular background music service.

Why do I need a licence for live music when I pay the band and they play originals?

The members of a band performing at your venue might not be the owners of the copyright in the music they perform. For instance, the band might have eight people in it but only two of these band members wrote the music they play. Alternatively, the music may have been co-written by some other person who is not part of the band at all. The OneMusic “live” fee is for the people who wrote and own that music. These songwriters are members of APRA (or similar affilliated international organisations) and receive their songwriting royalties via the OneMusic licence fee.


Paying for My Licence

How can I pay for my licence?

There are several easy ways to pay your OneMusic invoice.


Direct fund transfer into the OneMusic account:
APRA New Zealand Trading as OneMusic
01 0215 0104480 00
Please use your invoice number and trading name as a reference when making your payment. Email remittances can be sent to


You can call us to arrange payment by credit card. Please call 0800 800 663 and we’ll arrange this for you.


If you apply for your OneMusic licence online you can make payment with your credit card as part of the online application process. The 5% prompt payment discount will apply automatically if you pay the full annual invoice, the 5% prompt payment discount is not available when selecting the quarterly payment option.

And of course, you can also send us a cheque in the post!

What payment plan options are available?

If your invoice is $1,000 (excluding GST) or more you can choose to pay quarterly. Please note, the 5% prompt payment discount does not apply to quarterly invoicing. For accounts under this amount, please contact us on 0800 800 663 to arrange a payment plan on request. If for any reason you’re having difficulty paying your invoice, please also contact us on 0800 800 663.

I’m selling my business. Can I part pay?

OneMusic licences are non-transferrable.  If you are selling your business please contact us with details of the new owners so we can cancel your account and set up an account with the new owners.  As licence fees are paid annually in advance, if you sell your business part-way through the year you may be eligible for a refund. Please contact us for more information.


More about Copyright

How long does copyright last?

Copyright in musical works continues for 50 years after the end of the calendar year in which the author died. Copyright in sound recordings continues for 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the sound recording was made.

Where can I find the copyright act?

You can find a full copy of the Copyright Act here:

I disagree with music licensing. Where can I get independent advice?

We recommend that anyone with questions about music licensing should contact their own independent lawyer or other legal advisor. If you are looking for more general advice, most industry trade associations have information on music licensing and you can also visit the Copyright Council website for more information.